Wednesday, June 22, 2011

OK, into the boat

Oregon released a bunch of information the other day about its payments to a "recruiting service" (aka Willie Lyles), with the intention being to refute any claims of funny business and whatnot. Instead, Chip Kelly came out looking either extremely dumb or extremely cheaty:
Amid the documents released by Oregon related to the football scouting services inquiry were 140 recruiting profiles of high school players under the heading “2010 National High School Evaluation Booklet." Above each individual profile, however, reads “Player Profile 2011.” The related invoice cites the "2011 National Package."

A search of all the players listed revealed that virtually all graduated from high school in 2009 with a few graduating in 2010 or 2008.
So most of the information Oregon "bought" in 2010 (in print and video form) was for guys who graduated in 2009, which would make it completely useless. If you think Oregon really paid $25,000 that year -- and continues to pay the same conveniently connected guy -- for outdated and irrelevant recruiting profiles, you're either a diehard fan or someone with a very low opinion of Chip Kelly's level of intelligence.

In case you're wondering, $25K is a pretty hefty amount for any sort of recruiting package -- LSU paid Lyles $6,000 for presumably the same (but hopefully more up-to-date) information. And Lyles didn't have anything listed on his website for even close to $25,000; the "national" package Oregon paid for -- which consisted almost entirely of Texas recruits -- was supposed to cost $15,000. Oh, and that $25K was more than three times what Oregon paid any other scouting service/vendor/con artist.

Doctor Saturday summarizes the situation nicely:
"If this sounds too stupid to believe, well, that's because it probably is. The merely unflattering explanation is that Oregon was ripped off by a con man who stuck the Ducks with a shoddy product — embarrassing, maybe, but there's no NCAA rule against being gullible. The more cynical assumption is the same as it was when Lyles' name first slithered up from the gutter of the recruiting trail in the spring: That Oregon found a loophole in the system that allowed it to 'legally' funnel money to a middle man (Lyles) in exchange for access to certain recruits it already knew more than enough about."
What he calls cynical might also be called logical, especially when there's more evidence that pushes the whole situation past the threshold I wrote about yesterday from "sketchy" to "too sketchy." A few details:
  • Lyles and Kelly exchanged 12 text messages in the two days before LaMichael James (whom Lyles was "advising") committed to Oregon.
  • There were 70 calls between Lyles and Oregon's coaches in the four months leading up to 2010 Signing Day, which seems wildly excessive since Lyles was supposedly just providing general scouting services (and apparently doing a pretty terrible job of it).
  • The $25,000 payment came in March 2010, just after uber-recruit Lache Seastrunk -- another Lyles underling out of Texas -- had signed his letter of intent. That'd be a plausible time (a little late, but plausible) to buy legitimate 2011 recruiting info, but this is when Oregon was supposedly getting 2009 stuff.
In short: I find your story simply not believable.

The thought process back in the olden days (like 2008, when the USC stuff was starting to drip out of the fire hose) was, "yeah but the NCAA probably doesn't have any proof." If you read my post yesterday, you know this: It really doesn't matter anymore.

Courtesy of Andy Staples at Sports Illustrated:
"If Kelly or any of his coaches tried to pass off the booklet released Monday as legitimate, NCAA investigators might consider that a fib on the level of, say, claiming a recruit wasn't at a cookout at a coach's house when he actually was or, possibly, conveniently forgetting to mention that series of e-mails about the tattoo parlor."
Bingo. When the NCAA wants answers and Oregon provides a hilariously outdated book of recruiting profiles as its purchase receipt, the response won't be a pleasant one.

So anyway ... I said yesterday that "I need to see a little more on (Oregon) before I'm ready to throw them into the sinking boat with Ohio State and UNC." I've seen it. Commence throwing.


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